Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Thoughts from Spring Harvest - On Young People In The Church

At this year's Spring Harvest five themes were studied from the life of Moses:
  1. Encounter;
  2. Enlist;
  3. Everyone;
  4. Equip; and
  5. Empower.
In a seminar on Empower with Krish Kandiah and Virginia Luckett we were told that 70% of young people brought up in Christian families leave the church in their teens and twenties (the Titanic had a 68% death rate when it sank…), and were asked to suggest why this might be.  We came up with these thoughts:
  • We teach children the stories and facts that we think they should know, but do we spend enough time building foundations that will enable them to understand why they believe?  As they grow up they will be challenged to defend their faith, and without a strong foundation they will be in danger of falling;
  • Do we encourage and nurture spiritual gifts in our children?  Do we teach them what the gifts are and how to use them?  Do we encourage them to seek gifts in prayer and discussion? 
  • Do we support our children when they find faith difficult?  Do we encourage them to discuss their faith, to ask hard questions, to tackle challenging topics?  Do we have enough confidence in ourselves to be able to discuss such things?
  • Do we present them with false choices that make them choose between (say) science and God, or sport and God?  Do we recognise that their skills in all areas are gifts from God and can be used to serve Him?
  • Do we want mature, strong Christians who might disagree with us on some non-essential doctrines, or do we want clones of ourselves and our church?  Do we allow our children to disagree with us on points of theology?
Much to ponder, and let us pray for wisdom in bringing up our own children and the children of the church.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Jesus was not a socialist

Of course, He wasn't a capitalist either, in case anyone misunderstands me!

One of the principle messages of Jesus' ministry, as well as that of the early church and a recurring theme of the whole Bible, is that of providing justice for the poor, helping the poor, feeding the poor, and so on. It is absolutely clear that Christians have a duty to the poor.

The problem is that we have changed the emphasis. We often concentrate on the duty of the state to look after the poor, rather than the church. The side effect of doing so is that we make it someone else's duty rather than our own, and instead of concentrating on directly supporting people we concentrate on campaigning for someone else to do it.

Our first duty towards helping is to do it ourselves. The old mantra of 'work all you can to earn all our can to give all you can' is as applicable today as it ever was. We each need to be giving as much as we can afford, if not a little more. This will be different for all of us.

Give us a heart of generosity, and not a heart of judgement. Let us give each out of our own riches, and not seek to expect others to do the churches duty for us.

We need a state that looks after the vulnerable in our society and across the world, but much more that that we need a church that lives a life of sacrificial love for others.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Governments and Christians

As Christians, we believe that the coalition government was chosen by God.

We also believe that the next government will be chosen by God.

So what are we worried about? Let's go out and play our part in making it happen.

Romans 13:1New International Version (NIV)

Submission to Governing Authorities

13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.


Saturday, 11 April 2015

Stereotypes in Politics

I imagine we all agree that stereotypes are a bad thing - especially if we use them to define our view of a group of people.

Many of us, however, struggle to use this principle in our views of political parties.

How many of us think, of one (or more parties) "I don't see how anyone can be a Christian and support them"?

The trouble is, we often hold an unfavourable stereotypical view which colours our judgement, and therefore our view of other parties is more affected by our own allegiance, than it is by anything else.

Consider this: if Christians are in a party you really hate, then that is de facto evidence that your view of that party is wrong. Let us start treating our brothers and sisters with respect, and start from the assumption that they know what they are doing.

Friday, 18 April 2014


Local Elections 2014

Hart District Council, where I live (and have for a while served as a Councillor) is a very progressive council. For the last 8 years or so, under both Conservative and Lib Dem administrations the council has operated in a very open, inclusive and consultative way. The leaders of huge 3 main groups have regularly met to discuss issues, and (usually) agree on the best way forward. For 10 months of the year co-operation is the name of the game.

And then we get to April and May. Suddenly people who have worked well together for the rest of the year suddenly have to pretend to hate each other's policies and come with with largely spurious alternatives in order to try to get elected.

There must be a better way.

I am, once again, a candidate in these elections. As always my campaigns will be entirely positive, as I do not agree with any form of negative campaigning. I will talk about what my group has done well, and what our plans are for the future. I will not, in any way, denigrate my opponents. I will, of course, challenge their policies where they clash with ours, but I will always treat the people with the respect that they deserve for putting themselves in the public firing line, regardless of their party.

I hope and pray that every candidate and every party would do the same. Politicians in this country are held in low esteem, and if they are ever to overcome the distrust (and sometimes deserved contempt) of the general public, then the attitudes of candidates and parties everywhere have got to become less confrontational and more cooperative.

I wish all candidates of every party the best in these elections. May the best candidates win, and may they all remember that they are elected to serve their communities to the best of their ability.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Local democracy in action

Today was a great day for local democracy. Over 250 local residents went to a meeting at a local school to select the next Parliamentary candidate for the Conservative party in North East Hampshire. What made this unusual was that over 100 of these residents were not party members, for this was an open primary.

4 candidates were presented to us. Helen Whately and Spencer Pitfield were very good. They presented themselves well, answered the questions with skill, and made a generally good impression. It would have been very close between them had they been the only two candidates, and both would make excellent MPs.

However, on this occasion we also had 2 outstanding candidates. Victoria Atkins is a name I am sure we will hear again, as she will certainly get a seat soon. She spoke with conviction, fire and passion, and on any other day would probably have won.

But today, there was also an outstanding local candidate, brought up and schooled in the constituency, and with 5 years experience on the local council. Ranil Jayawardena spoke brilliantly, also with passion and conviction.

The vote was taken, and after a nervous wait, Ranil was confirmed as the victor, and after the formality of ratification by the local party membership was formally selected as the next candidate for the Conservatives at the 2015 election.

Conservatives often get a bad press, but this venture into more open and accountable local politics is to be commended. There are no 'Falkirk' moments in the Conservative party.

Oh, and Ranil is also a Christian, and a member of the Conservative Christian Fellowship.

The Government will be a much better place with the likes of Ranil (and Victoria, Helen and Spencer) in it. A new breed of Conservatives are rising, ones in touch with their local constituents, because they have to convince them to even get selected.